John Kay (spinning frame)

John Kay was a clockmaker from Warrington, Lancashire, England. He is known by association with Thomas Highs and later Richard Arkwright for the scandal associated with the invention of the spinning frame in 1767: an important stage in the development of textile manufacturing in the Industrial Revolution.

Kay was originally a partner of Thomas Highs (the true inventor) but they ran out of funds. Arkwright befriended Kay and over a drink in a pub persuaded him to hand over the secrets of Highs's machine. Arkwright raised the necessary funds and with Kay doing the construction and development work created the water frame.

Arkwright ditched Kay, his power and wealth grew, he developed cotton spinning into a continuous process, in 1775 he patented a variety of machinery that performed all the processes of manufacture, from cleaning to carding to final spinning. Every one of these patented ideas he stole from others.

In 1781, Arkwright went to court to protect his patents but the move rebounded when his patents were overturned. Four years later, after seeing his patents restored temporarily, the truth finally came out in another, definitive court battle.

Highs, a remorseful Kay, Kay's wife and the widow of James Hargreaves all testified that Arkwright had stolen their inventions. The court agreed and Arkwright's patents were finally laid aside.

This John Kay should not be confused with the man from Bury who invented the flying shuttle. The two men worked separately and were not related.

External links

* [http://www.cottontimes.co.uk/arkwrighto.htm Essay on Arkwright, showing the relationship with Kay]
* [http://www.johnkay.com/strategy/267 Essay on the two John Kays of the Industrial Revolution]
* [http://www.cottontown.org Cotton Town website]

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